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Articles are Always a Joy to Write

I can honestly say that every blog post I write on every platform that I write on under every pen name that I use is a joy to me.

 
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I would hope that every blog post of mine that gets published is a joy to read.

That is not to say that every post I write should get published.

Nor that each published piece will be enjoyed by each reader. Part of having many places to write is to insulate the readers who would not like any given piece, but even with that, having every reader of a piece be a fan of it is well beyond abilities.

This leads me to ask myself about:

  • ideas that don’t turn into articles
  • articles that are written but not published
  • articles that are published but don’t bring much joy

There are relatively few ideas that don’t get turned into articles. Most commonly they don’t because I can’t reduce the complexity to the point that it will fit in one article and I can’t divide the idea well enough to make several distinct articles. I write articles rather than books or even chapters. I write paragraphs or at most pages. Occasionally the idea gets lost before they are affixed to a medium. The most frequent failure is that they get started, but are not finished. My backlog of unfinished drafts is ever-growing.

A larger but still very small proportion of articles get written but not published. Some just get lost in one of the content management workflows. A tiny fraction doesn’t get the required approval. A very few turn out to be factual wrong beyond repair or unkind or controversial, or are “more heat than light.” And a small but important fraction gets published on another platform. While I am always willing to throw away a piece, it surprises me how rarely I do.

I write for an audience of one.

Some of my articles don’t bring much joy to a general audience. Most of my writing has been for “an audience of one” and then published publicly in a place they will see. Not one archetype but one specific individual. My articles have a near-perfect track record for their intended audience and it is odd to think about writing for a larger audience. I don’t have a lot of experience with that.

Recently I had an article fail for its intended audience but seems to have succeeded with a broader audience. I am not sure how to score it.

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I think it is the best instantiation of that article that I could write, it might be one of my best articles ever. The problem was not that it wasn’t wonderful but rather that was the wrong article.

I have told myself that the right article is beyond my abilities, but that isn’t quite true. It is instead that I don’t know how to enjoy writing that article. For the first time, I sacrificed my intended audience to serve a general audience. It was in a blog that I hadn’t expected to hold pieces for an audience of one. It had a very large readership

That article was a lot of work. Perhaps eightfold the time I normally spend on a piece of that length. The “right” article would be even more work to write. It wouldn’t fit on any of my existing blogs. And I’m feeling that I “should” write it anyway even the thought of writing it fills me with dread rather than joy. It is likely to be the most impactful piece I have ever written; impactful for the audience of one. I don’t know that I am up to the task.

To have that greatest impact on that intended audience, I think it would need to be part of a large series made up of articles that I wouldn’t enjoy writing targeted at an audience that I’ve never written for and have little understanding of. It sounds like a useful learning experience, but somehow one I would not find much joy in. Perhaps I could find someone to write the rest of the series? Or perhaps I could find someone else’s blog to publish it in. I don’t know where to look, but presumably, I could figure that out. Perhaps create yet another penname. Or better still, maybe whoever writes for that blog could write the article under their own name.

I don’t know, should I write it? Is it worth the effort? Currently, it feels like a lot of effort and not a lot of joy.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals

 

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